UNION COUNTY — Economic development was a big part of Tuesday’s Union County Council meeting council approving the extension of a tax break for a company planning to invest up to $8 million locally.
Tuesday’s meeting began with an address by Union County Auditor Brad Valentine who recommended to council that it approve an extension on a tax abatement requested by McFarland Cascade.
Valentine explained that McFarland Cascade had purchased United Wood Treating with big plans for expanding its operations in Union County. He pointed out that the company has already invested $2.39 million in Union County and plans to invest from $5 million to $8 million as part of its planned expansion which will include the creation of new jobs.
To help facilitate its expansion plans, Valentine said that McFarland Cascade has requested the extension of a tax abatement it currently has on its facility in Union County. Valentine said that the company wants the abatement to be extended and cover the equipment it is buying for the expansion of its local operations.
Valentine said he felt granting the extension on the tax abatement would be in the county’s best interests pointing to the investment McFarland Cascade is making and the jobs that will be created as a result.
Council voted unanimously to approve the extension.
In Union County, McFarland Cascade operates a wood treatment facility that makes telephone poles. The facility, located at 1121 Delta Road, Whitmire, has a workforce of 25 full-time employees.
Council also voted unanimously Tuesday to approve second reading of an ordinance amending the fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between Union County and Gonvauto South Carolina, LLC. The ordinance states that the fee agreement, which the county and the company entered into July 25, 2012, is being amended to include GES Recycling South Carolina, LLC.”
The ordinance states that GES South Carolina, LLC is owned by GESRecycling USA, LLC, an affiliate of Gonvauto (GES Holdco). It states that GES wants to locate a steel and aluminum collection, processing, and recovery operation at Gonvauto’s manufacturing facility in Union County. It further states that the collection, processing, and recovery operation is “a necessary and integral part of the facility’s manufacturing process.
The ordinance states GES expects to invest at least $4 million and create at least 21 jobs in the establishment and operation of its aluminum collection, processing, and recovery operation at the Gonvauto facility..
The GES operation at the Gonvauto facility was first announced in 2016 and was initially included under the fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the county and Gonvauto in March of that year. Since that time, the ordinance states GES has underwent corporate restructuring and the company sought an amendment to the 2016 ordinance to reflect that restructuring.
The Gonvauto facility is located at 1725 Jonesville Highway, Union, in the Bonham Community. The steel processing facility employs a workforce of 62 full-time employees.
Gonvauto is an affiliate of Gestamp LLC which operates an adjacent manufacturing facility at 1 LSP Road, Union, also in the Bonham Community. The Gestamp facility employs 391 full-time employees in the production of automotive components.
Gestamp and its recently announced plans to invest $129 million in the expansion of its operations in Union County and create 130 new jobs was also part of Tuesday’s meeting.
Union County Development Board Executive Director Kathy Jo Lancaster addressed council about the announced expansion saying that it represented “significant growth for the county.” Lancaster pointed out that, as a global firm, Gestamp could have built somewhere, but instead chose Union County. She added that the recently announced expansion is the second one for Gestamp in Union County since it began operations at it facility which is located on LSP Road off US 176.
Gestamp is an international manufacturer of metal automotive components with a global workforce of more than 34,000 associates. It operates 98 manufacturing plants worldwide and has 10 more under construction. The company specializes in the development and manufacturing of metal components and structural systems for the automotive industry. Utilizing a variety of technologies, including hot and cold stamping, hydroforming, laser welding and more, Gestamp also has 12 research and development facilities focused on continued innovation.
Designed to serve the existing BMW and Volvo Cars operations in South Carolina, Gestamp will be adding more than 300,000 square feet of space to its current operations. The company will also be constructing 123,000 square feet of new space and adding another 182,000 square feet by leasing an existing building.
Hiring for the new positions is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2018, and those interested in applying should contact email@example.com. For more information on the company, visit www.gestamp.com.
Just days after it announced its plan for its Union County facility, Gestamp reports 2016 revenues of more than €7.5 billion or more than $8 billion.
(€ is the symbol of the Euro, the monetary unit of the European Union of which Spain, the home country of Gestamp, is a member.)
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve the following:
• Authorizing Union County EMS Director Eric Harold to enter the county into a mutual aid agreement with neighboring counties. Harold said that under the agreement the EMS organizations in each county could respond to calls in the counties covered by the agreement if needed. He said that if Union County EMS responds to a call in one of the other counties it will be able to bill for that call. If one of the other counties’ EMS responds to a call in Union County they will be able to bill for it.
Harold said the mutual aid agreement is similar to the one EMS had when it was part of the hospital district. He said that a new one is needed, however, since EMS is now a county operation.
The other counties covered by the agreement are Cherokee, Fairfield, Laurens, Newberry, Spartanburg, and York.
• To donate a county-owned van to the Union County Council on Aging. The county had previously been allowing Council on Aging to use the van.
• To seek sealed bids from parties interested in purchasing some county-owned property at 1504 Main Street, Buffalo, and have council decide whether or not to accept the highest bid.
• To advertise for proposals from private developers interested in developing the suite next to the SCWorks Office on Main Street in downtown Union.
• To take $300,000 from the county’s 327 Account for a loan for the construction of the new Bonham Fire Department.
• To purchase a vehicle from the Union County Sheriff’s Office for $5,000 for use by the County Code Enforcement Officer.
Council also approved the following appointments to the following commissions and boards:
• Mark Lancaster — Union County Airport Commission
• Pamela Ray — Union County Fair Board
• Will Anthony — Union County Stadium Commission
• Rebecca Rochester — Union County Tourism Commission
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.